Close to Home: Life’s not fair, but the internet should be: Long live net neutrality

Close to Home: Life’s not fair, but the internet should be: Long live net neutrality

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The internet — you know, that thing you use for everything. That thing you use to pay your bills, Skype with family and manage your business, all while simultaneously watching cat videos; it’s in danger. Today the internet could change forever.

Should I start with the good news or the bad news?

The bad news: Net neutrality is under threat of being repealed. The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote today to repeal net neutrality rules, which would would dismantle milestone regulations designed to ensure fair and equal access to the internet. If this were to happen, internet service providers would have the power to charge content creators — like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, or CNET — more money to stream their service or have the ability to block others entirely.

This ability to charge the end user to stream certain content is a competitive advantage that doesn’t stimulate competition. In fact, it’s a startlingly easy way for larger ISPs to destroy competition. I don’t think I need to convince you that competition is a good thing. It’s always been a huge driving force of innovation and better, cheaper products for consumers. Without it, you lose your ability to choose a provider that offers you the best possible product. And you deserve the best.

The good news: The internet should remain open and equal for all. And some businesses still truly believe that. You still have a choice; you can choose to stand up for your rights online by supporting businesses and ISPs that continue to enforce the principles that net neutrality was founded on. And you can tell your friends, family and anyone who will listen to support them, too.

Net neutrality isn’t just a law; it’s a collection of fair and just guiding principles that protect consumers and stimulate competition. All businesses should craft policies to support and protect it. It’s the consumers that fuel our businesses, and the moment we forget that is the moment we’ve lost.

But the fight isn’t over yet. You can still stand up for your rights online. What can you do to help protect your freedom to stream, browse, and game without barriers?

— You can support (and tell your friends to support!) businesses that continue to enforce net neutrality principles, like Sonic.

— There’s still time to make your voice heard. You can contact your congressional representatives to tell them that you support net neutrality and encourage them to step in and stop the FCC from voting to repeal it. Sonic has partnered with Battle For The Net to make it easy for you. To get more information or to submit a letter, go to www.battleforthenet.com

Dane Jasper is chief executive officer and co-founder of Sonic.net, a telecommunications company and internet service provider based in Santa Rosa.